BC Hydro has taken measures to reduce exposure of its staff to the coronavirus, including no longer disconnecting customers who cannot pay their bills.
The utility has also temporarily closed its walk-in customer service desks and isolated key areas, including its control centre, indefinitely suspended all non-essential business travel, public meetings and site tours and increased cleaning at all facilities.
”BC Hydro is an essential service with many critical functions that must operate around the clock in order to power the province,” the utility said in a statement released on Friday morning.
“BC Hydro continues to monitor the situation closely and will implement new measures as the situation progresses based on information and advice provided by health authorities.”
President and CEO Chris O’Riley also announced that the utility has introduced a COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program to help customers experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We recognize the financial impact COVID-19 may have on our customers due to changes in employment from workplaces closing, or reducing staffing levels and want to provide some relief during this challenging time,” said O’Riley.
“In addition, some customers may experience higher electricity bills due to increased consumption from spending more time at home.”
The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides customers with the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty.
O’Riley said in addition Customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.
Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to discuss bill payment options.